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The mission of the Centre is located within the existing and emerging strengths of our University, with a strong emphasis on high quality research that will guide, inform and impact upon front-line practice.

The Centre will chart and critically examine provision and practice in sport coaching and physical education. Through the adoption of a life cycle approach the Centre will produce research outputs and solutions to reflect participant need and stage of development. The Centre will seek to innovate in the areas of practice, policy development and domain transfer (within the Faculty; with business and other sectors), with a view to informing and enhancing programmes at local , regional, national and international level.

Thematic areas

The primary rationale for the creation of a Research and Enterprise Centre for Sport Coaching and Physical Education was based on the central role played by these related areas in teaching and guiding the improvement of participants at each stage of their development in sport and physical activity. Physical Education primarily operates in a school based context with links to the community, whilst sport coaching has a strong community base, with links to schools. In the context of health, educational and sporting agendas at a national and international level, both areas have a pivotal role to play.

In this context, the Centre is examining core issues around what works, for whom, in what circumstances and why, with a view to producing research outputs that will be ground-breaking and seek to further evolve policy; organisation; practice and evaluation in physical education and sport coaching. This approach will include both disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspectives and will inform the further evolution of both physical education and sport coaching.


  • Parental influences in youth sport.
  • Resilience and adaptive capacity in adventure education.
  • Inclusive physical education and youth sport.
  • Talent development in physical education and youth sport.
  • Age-stage models as knowledge bases to inform participant and performer development and coaching
  • Effective coaching practice in kayak slalom.
  • Women’s experience of the coach-athlete relationship.

Case studies

Junior Rugby League Talent Identification and Development

Dr Kevin Till worked with the Rugby League’s national governing body, the Rugby Football League (RFL) during his doctoral research, funded by Leeds Beckett University. Kevin’s PhD, titled ‘Junior Rugby League Talent Identification and Development: Age, Maturation, Anthropometry and Fitness’ evaluated aspects of the RFL’s national talent identification and development programme (the Player Performance Pathway; PPP).

Kevin’s research identified a number of issues with the RFL’s PPP. Firstly, the PPP resulted in considerable relative age effects, favouring players born earlier in the selection year (i.e., September to November). Selected players were also bigger and earlier maturing demonstrating talent identification within rugby league favours the bigger and earlier maturing adolescent players. Secondly, fitness testing results were heightened in nationally selected players further demonstrating a focus on physical characteristics within player selection. Finally, player development is more appropriately monitored on an individual and longitudinal basis, therefore questioning early (de)selection policies using 'one-off' measures used within youth rugby league and other youth sports. These research findings challenged the PPP and whether fair best practice was being applied in the identification, selection and development of youth rugby league players.

These research findings have led to a number of research papers being published in peer reviewed journals but also provided the RFL with cutting edge best practice to allow the RFL to address the key issues identified in the research. This resulted in the RFL making evidence informed changes to their pathway alongside building on positives of the existing PPP to develop a new pathway, named the Player Development Pathway, to run between 2010 and 2016.

In relation to the key issues identified through the research, the new pathway aimed to provide more development and coaching opportunities to a greater number of players with a reduction in the player identification and selection processes previously used. These changes included a number of beneficiaries including the RFL, professional and community clubs and individual players, coaches and parents. The RFL have improved the pathway hoping to leading to a greater of number of participants within the junior game and players progressing to professional and international levels. The new pathway resulted in players staying within the community clubs longer. Players are benefited by more development opportunities with fewer inequalities for the relatively younger or later maturing individual. More coaching opportunities are available alongside development opportunities for coaches and finally parents can benefit from a healthy and happier player.

Professor Andrew Sparkes
0113 81 23546
124, Fairfax, Headingley Campus

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